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A staple of The Western, an outlaw boards a train for the express purpose of robbing it. This was especially common during the period that payroll shipments were sent by train. If the railroad industry is an antagonist in the movie, expect to see at least one of these.

A common Caper for films set in the right period. The earliest train robbery was probably the Great Gold Robbery of 1855 - the earliest one in the USA (outside the Civil War) occurred in 1866. So it's basically as old as railways themselves. May eventually lead to a Traintop Battle.

The video game equivalent is the Locomotive Level.

See also Armed Blag, which is a robbery of an armored car.

Examples of Train Job include:

In General

  • Most media involving the outlaw Jesse James depicts at least one of these, which is at least partly historically accurate. This dates back to dime novels during the time of his life.

Anime and Manga

  • If we're talking about trains being robbed from outside then the first episode of Wolf's Rain would count.
  • The first mission in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS involved stopping one being performed by Scaglietti's Gadget Drones on a supply train.
  • The 1931/Grand Punk Railroad arc of Baccano revolves around three separate parties (a terrorist cult, The Mafia, and a Chicago-based street gang) attempting to hijack the same train all at once. The end result is a Traintop Battle of epic proportions. It wasn't helped by the Rail Tracer.
  • The first volume of the Manhwa Priest has one of these going down — and going to hell in horrific fashion.
  • A variant in the Water 7 arc of One Piece, where Sanji infiltrates a train in an attempt to rescue Robin, who was being transported to Enies Lobby on it.

Comic Books

  • Train robbers are common bad guys in Jonah Hex.
  • In their first appearance in the Batman comics, the western themed villains the Trigger Twins attempt to pull off a train job by robbing the money train that collects the takings from the Gotham subway.


  • Naturally, the classic 1903 film The Great Train Robbery.
  • In Back to The Future Part 3, Doc hijacks a local train. When asked if this was a train robbery, he responds that it's a "science experiment." In some ways, this in an inversion of the trope. Other robbers would take valuables from the train and leave the train itself undamaged. Doc and Marty took the train (and destroyed it) the valuables on the train weren't even discussed, much less taken. Although considering the comparative value of gold to that of a locomotive at the time they actually destroyed something worth a lot more than regular robbers would have taken from anything short of a bank transport train.
  • The Wild Bunch also had a train robbery. Here, the target was guns, not gold.
  • The Matt Helm film The Wrecking Crew featured the train robbery of a fortune in gold bullion.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    • Twice. Which led to two CMOFs in the same movie.

  Butch: "You can't want to get blown up again, Woodcock!?"

  • Done with all kinds of glorious atmospherics in The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
  • Public Enemies: Dillinger and company discuss one of these early on in the film. They never get around to it, though.
  • Shanghai Noon
  • Tough Guys was a film from 1986 featuring two criminals who were arrested robbing a train when they were young. It follows their release as senior citizens. They give up and rob it again.
  • The Train Robbers (1973) starring John Wayne.
  • Once Upon a Texas Train
  • Money Train starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson where a pair of foster brothers are transit cops and one wants to rob the train carrying the system revenue after losing his job.
  • The last "dance" sequence in Sucker Punch is a futuristic train heist.


  • The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton depicts a historical train robbery, although the accuracy is... questionable.
  • Louis L'Amour's novel The Trail to Peach Meadow Canyon has the protagonist plan out the robbery of a train carrying a fortune in gold.
  • A prison train gets hijacked in The Six Sacred Stones by the good guys as part of an escape plan.
  • Sets up the plot of Millions: as Britain changes over to the Euro, a group of thieves rob a train carrying millions of pounds on their way to be incinerated. Some bags of money get lost and find their way to the hands of our protagonists.

Live Action TV

  • Since Firefly is a Western In Space, there is naturally a train job in the episode appropriately titled "The Train Job" which is the Trope Namer. Here, the cargo turns out to be medical supplies bound for the people of Paradiso, who are suffering from a degenerative disease called "Bowden's Malady." Mal, being a man of honor, returns the supplies to the townsfolk, making a very bad enemy of his employer, the psychotic Adelai Niska.
  • The climax of Life On Mars features a train carrying miner's wages being robbed.
  • Heartbeat has featured several train robberies. Apparently the branch lines of 1960s Yorkshire were Britain's answer to the Wild West.
  • Occurred in The Cape, wherein the carnival protagonists become the proverbial sand in the wheels of the main protagonist.
  • In the Batman TV series, in keeping with his Western motif, the villain Shame pulls a train job.
  • Michael Bentines Potty Time had an epsiode that retold one of the train robberies from the American Civil War, using puppets.

Video Games

  • Kicks off the plot of Wild Arms 3, when two of the playable characters plus the Goldfish Poop Gang try to rob the train, one of the playable characters is there to guard it, and the fourth is just caught in the crossfire.
  • Final Fantasy VIII
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony has you jump atop an El Train in order to steal it. The whole train car.
  • Call of Juarez, being a Spaghetti Western game, features a Train Job. Or rather, one protagonist is caught helpless right in the middle of it, while the other has to destroy the attacking bandits. On his own.
  • Red Dead Redemption features several Train Jobs; depending on whose train it is, the protagonist may find himself attacking or defending.
  • Red Dead Revolver had a level where you had to take out the bandits robbing a train.
  • The sixth level of the second Sly Cooper game featured Sly and company pulling off a trio of train robberies.
  • Starcraft II featured a mission where you rob Dominion trains to look for whatever it was that they were transporting, an old Dominion adjutant with some dirt on Mengsk. However, instead of boarding the trains, you blow up the trains and steal the object from the remains.
  • Even Star Wars gets one in Jedi Academy.

Western Animation

  • In his first ever cartoon appearance, Yosemite Sam of Looney Tunes tries to rob a train. He's tried it at least one more time in his long career.
  • Subverted in Family Guy, where Peter and Lois's father try to rob a passenger train, but no one travels by train anymore.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, after Kasnya ends its Civil War and manages to join the EU, the Injustice League attempt to rob a trainload of euros en route to the central bank for currency conversion.
  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode, "Over a Barrel", begins with one.
  • For reasons that are never really explained, Rojo and her crew are attempting to rob a train in the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Hit 'Em Where They Live".

Web Original

Real Life

  • The first non-war train robbery in the US was committed by the Reno Gang on the evening of October 6, 1866.
  • The largest robbery in British history (now the second largest) was the Great Train Robbery of 1963 (not the one from the Crichton novel).
  • The MO of the James-Younger gang in the 1860s-1880s.
  • Train Jobs still plague modern railways, though modern theives, instead of sticking up the engine, will typically cause some kind of a commotion that requires the train to stop at a grade crossing, then rob the cargo while the crew is distracted.
    • Or the thieves will steal from traincars that are parked in yards or on isolated sidings. Since in some cases these places often have minimal security and the trains are already stopped.